Newswire: Desmond Tutu, South African equality activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner, dead at 90

Archbishop Desmond Tutu with Nelson Mandela

 

By: Associated Press

Desmond Tutu, South Africa’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning activist for racial justice and LGBT rights and retired Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, has died, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced Sunday. He was 90.
An uncompromising foe of apartheid — South Africa’s brutal regime of oppression against the Black majority — Tutu worked tirelessly, though non-violently, for its downfall.
The buoyant, blunt-spoken clergyman used his pulpit as the first Black bishop of Johannesburg and later Archbishop of Cape Town, as well as frequent public demonstrations to galvanize public opinion against racial inequity both at home and globally.
Tutu’s death on Sunday “is another chapter of bereavement in our nation’s farewell to a generation of outstanding South Africans who have bequeathed us a liberated South Africa,” Ramaphosa said in a statement.
“From the pavements of resistance in South Africa to the pulpits of the world’s great cathedrals and places of worship, and the prestigious setting of the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, the Arch distinguished himself as a non-sectarian, inclusive champion of universal human rights.”
Tutu died peacefully at the Oasis Frail Care Center in Cape Town, the Archbishop Desmond Tutu Trust said in a statement on Sunday. Tutu had been hospitalized several times since 2015, after being diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1997. In recent years he and his wife, Leah, lived in a retirement community outside Cape Town.
The Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 highlighted his stature as one of the world’s most effective champions for human rights, a responsibility he took seriously for the rest of his life.
With the end of apartheid and South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994, Tutu celebrated the country’s multi-racial society, calling it a “rainbow nation,” a phrase that captured the heady optimism of the moment.
Nicknamed “the Arch,” Tutu was diminutive, with an impish sense of humor, but he became a towering figure in his nation’s history — comparable to fellow Nobel laureate Nelson Mandela, a prisoner during white rule who became South Africa’s first Black president. Tutu and Mandela shared a commitment to building a better, more equal South Africa.
In 1990, after 27 years in prison, Mandela spent his first night of freedom at Tutu’s residence in Cape Town. Later, Mandela called Tutu “the people’s archbishop.”
Upon becoming president in 1994, Mandela appointed Tutu to be chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which uncovered the abuses of the apartheid system.

Tutu campaigned internationally for human rights, especially LGBT rights and same-sex marriage. “I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this,” he said in 2013, launching a campaign for LGBT rights in Cape Town. “I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven. No, I would say, ‘Sorry, I would much rather go to the other place.'”
Tutu said he was “as passionate about this campaign [for LGBT rights] as I ever was about apartheid. For me, it is at the same level.” He was one of the most prominent religious leaders to advocate for LGBT rights. Tutu’s very public stance put him at odds with many in South Africa and across the continent, as well as within the Anglican church.
South Africa, Tutu said, was a nation of promise for racial reconciliation and equality, even though he grew disillusioned with the African National Congress, the anti-apartheid movement that became the ruling party in 1994 elections. His outspoken remarks long after apartheid sometimes angered partisans, who accused him of being biased or out of touch.
Tutu was particularly incensed by the South African government’s refusal to grant a visa to the Dalai Lama, preventing the Tibetan spiritual leader from attending Tutu’s 80th birthday celebration, as well as a planned gathering of Nobel laureates in Cape Town. South Africa rejected Tutu’s accusations that it was bowing to pressure from China, a major trading partner.
Early in 2016, Tutu defended the reconciliation policy that ended white minority rule amid increasing frustration among some South Africans who felt they had not seen the expected economic opportunities and other benefits since apartheid ended. Tutu had chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that investigated atrocities under apartheid and granted amnesty to some perpetrators, but some people believe more former white officials should have been prosecuted.

Desmond Mpilo Tutu was born on Oct. 7, 1931, in Klerksdorp, west of Johannesburg, and became a teacher before entering St. Peter’s Theological College in Rosetenville in 1958 for training as a priest. He was ordained in 1961 and six years later became chaplain at the University of Fort Hare. Moves to the tiny southern African kingdom of Lesotho and to Britain followed, with Tutu returning home in 1975.
He became bishop of Lesotho, chairman of the South African Council of Churches and, in 1985, the first Black Anglican bishop of Johannesburg. In 1986, he became the first Black Archbishop of Cape Town. He ordained women priests and promoted gay priests.
Tutu was arrested in 1980 for taking part in a protest and later had his passport confiscated for the first time. He got it back for trips to the United States and Europe, where he held talks with the UN secretary general, the Pope and other church leaders.
Tutu often conducted funeral services after the massacres that marked the negotiating period of 1990-94. He railed against Black-on-Black political violence, asking crowds, “Why are we doing this to ourselves?” In one powerful moment, Tutu defused the rage of thousands of mourners in a township soccer stadium after the Boipatong massacre of 42 people in 1992, leading the crowd in chants proclaiming their love of God and themselves.
After Mandela became president in 1994, he asked Tutu to head the truth commission to promote racial reconciliation. The panel listened to harrowing testimony about torture, killings and other atrocities during apartheid. At some hearings, Tutu wept openly.
“Without forgiveness, there is no future,” he said at the time. The commission’s 1998 report lay most of the blame on the forces of apartheid, but it also found the African National Congress guilty of human rights violations. The ANC sued to block the document’s release, earning a rebuke from Tutu. “I didn’t struggle in order to remove one set of those who thought they were tin gods to replace them with others who are tempted to think they are,” Tutu said.
Asked once how he wanted to be remembered, he told The Associated Press: “He loved. He laughed. He cried. He was forgiven. He forgave. Greatly privileged.”
Tutu is survived by his wife of 66 years and their four children.

Newswire : African critics see dark side to China’s ‘charitable’ development loans

China’s President Xi Jinping with Uganda’s President Paul. Kagame

2Sept. 10, 2018 (GIN) – There are two sides to every coin and two widely opposing views on China’s offer of generous loans and grants to African countries announced at the recent Forum on China-Africa Cooperation forum in Beijing. At the confab, with representatives from 53 of 54 African countries, sky-high numbers were bandied about. Chinese President Xi Jinping announced $60 billion in funds for eight initiatives over the next three years, in areas ranging from industrial promotion, infrastructure construction and scholarships for young Africans. Such a financial package has many high-profile defenders on the continent, including the head of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina. “A lot of people get nervous about China but I am not. I think China is Africa’s friend,” he told the BBC. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa dismissed the view of a “new colonialism taking hold in Africa while Rwandan President Paul Kagame called talk of “debt traps” as attempts to discourage African-Chinese interactions. But several African economists, media pundits and civil society see red flags ahead. “The time has come for African leaders to critically interrogate their relationship with China,” an editorial in Kenya’s Daily Nation said Monday. “What are the benefits in this relationship? Is China unfairly exploiting Africa like the others before it?” “This debt acquired from China comes with huge business opportunities for Chinese companies, particularly construction companies that have turned the whole of Africa into a construction site for rails, roads, electricity dams, stadia, commercial buildings and so on,” said Kampala-based economist Ramathan Ggoobi, speaking to the BBC. In Uganda, a 21 year mining concession to the Guangzhou Dongsong Energy Company produced only 92 job slots so far and the threat of displacement of 12,000 residents from 14 villages. This week in Zambia, the government was forced to refute published reports of the possible Chinese takeover of Kenneth Kaunda International Airport and the power utility ZESCO for unpaid debts. It is increasingly common in countries like Angola, Mozambique or Ghana, which benefit from Chinese loans for infrastructure, to see Chinese trucks and workers who would otherwise be unemployed in China now working in Africa on Chinese projects. “If African countries are not careful, the debt they have to China is going to be the equivalent or even more than the debt that they have to industrialized countries and to the World Bank,” said William Gumede, University of the Witwatersrand professor and chair of the Democracy Works Foundation in South Africa. The next Summit will be organized by Senegal in 2021.

Newswire : In South Africa, pain and shock at passing of Winnie Madikizela Mandela

death-winniemandela2
  Winnie Mandela

(TriceEdneyWire.com/GIN) – Tributes to anti-apartheid icon Winnie Madikizela Mandela filled the South African radio air waves this week as news of her untimely passing reached the far corners of the nation and the continent.
Heart-rending classics from the American songbook – from The Song for Mama by Boyz to Men to Donny Hathaway’s A Song for You – expressed the somber mood in the nation while social media filled with remembrances by those whose lives she touched – sometimes with a single word, sometimes with a long eulogy.
“The big tree has fallen the #MotherOfTheNation, a nation builder ulale kahle mama you have fought a good fight,you’ll remain in our hearts,” wrote AndileKaMajola on Twitter. “How I wish to have met you,” wrote Sego Bae we EFF from South Africa’s city of Randburg. “You are a woman of steel and no one will ever take away that from you mama Winnie Nonzamo Mandela. May your lovely soul rest in peace.”
The former wife of Robbin Island prisoner later president Nelson Mandela, Winnie had been in and out of Netcare Milpark Hospital battling a kidney infection, according to her spokesman, Victor Dlamini. A message from the family read: “Altho we are gutted by her passing, we are grateful for the gift of her life.”
Recently, she was an observer during the ANC’s struggle over corruption allegations that enveloped past president Jacob Zuma. She expressed confidence in the new leadership of the ANC under Cyril Ramaphosa. “We’re going to surprise the country. I’ve told them they must watch this space. I’m back,” she declared.
Nomzamo Winifred Zanyiwe Madikizela was one of nine children – six of them daughters – of two teachers and devout Methodists, Columbus Madikizela and his wife, Gertrude.
When Madikizela-Mandela moved to Johannesburg, she studied social work. There she met lawyer and anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela in 1957 and they married a year later and had two children.
The marriage was short-lived as he was arrested in 1963 and sentenced to life imprisonment for treason. Mandela was eventually released in 1990.
Winnie was a strong single parent who raised two children while her “larger than life” husband was in prison. This was a time that the ANC and the country overall was “gendered”, spurring her struggle for women’s rights.
In May 1969, Winnie was jailed supposedly for political agitation, but more likely for simply being the wife of Nelson Mandela. Held for 17 months, she spent most of the time in solitary confinement, and was interrogated and kept awake for up to five days at a time.
The picture of her hand-in-hand with Mandela as he walked free from prison after 27 years became one of the most recognizable symbols of the anti-apartheid struggle.
The Mandela family says it will release details of the memorial and funeral services once
these have been finalized. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced an official
memorial on April 14 in Orlando Stadium in Soweto.
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